Dave Nelley (left), vice president of apples, pears, cherries and global exports for The Oppenheimer Group, talks with Chris Grimmer of Sobeys at the Oppy booth during CPMA’s 2018 convention in Vancouver, British Columbia. ( File photo )

The Canadian Produce Marketing Association’s 94th annual convention and trade show, April 2-4 at Montreal’s conference center, Palais des Congrès, is shaping up to be one of the best Montreal shows ever, said CPMA president Ron Lemaire. 

“The trade show, with about 1,300 unique companies, was sold out well before Christmas, hotels are oversold, and, with the number of people registering from all segments of the produce industry — we usually run 3,500 to 4,000 — we’re expecting another sell-out,” said Lemaire, who’s based in Ottawa. 

He expects delegates from across Canada, and said the new NAFTA agreement will encourage strong U.S. participation. 

“The new Mexican government is also supportive of the CPMA, and they’ll be at the show again to promote their country,” he said.

There’s also a huge opportunity to meet a diversified group of international buyers at the convention, he said, including Chinese online retailers.

Marketing guru Justin Kingsley, this year’s keynote speaker, has been named one of Canada’s most creative people. 

The New York Times best-selling author has been creative director for the Montreal Canadiens, and recently developed the United as One brand for the FIFA World Cup 2026, to be hosted by Canada, Mexico and the U.S. 

His Adidas strategy was named best global campaign of the 2012 London Olympics. 
“Justin brings an interesting dynamic from the sports world on being an entrepreneur,” Lemaire said. 

“The produce sector is built on entrepreneurship, and he’ll give a good slant on how to be successful.”

This year’s business session offers A Taste of Disruption, a chance for members to meet Deloitte NextGen consultants in innovation, digital and analytics and explore the potential and effects of these valuable tools in their own company.

Learning Lounges on the trade show floor also focus on success and innovation. Meet winners of the prestigious Canada’s Most Admired Corporate Culture award as they share personal insights on how their org’s culture leads to employee fulfilment, partner satisfaction and business growth. 

Learn about the direct connection between food waste and your bottom line, and discover the potential for new markets and increased exports under NAFTA 2.0 and other trade agreements. 

Once again, the conference will end with a band as platinum-award-winning Canadian group Walk Off The Earth rocks the annual banquet. 

Pull Quote

“It will be unbelievable,” Lemaire said. “Last year in Vancouver we had more people than ever on the final night.” 

Back in Ottawa, Lemaire said the board has been busy presenting a briefing document to all three major Canadian political parties in preparation for the Oct. 21 federal election. 

He will also be seeking a meeting with brand new minister of agriculture and agri-food Marie-Claude Bibeau.

CPMA’s annual convention and trade show is Canada’s largest event dedicated to the fruit and vegetable industry.